Back in 1960, a man named Joe Kittinger did probably the ballsiest thing ever done by any human being. EVER. He jumped out of a balloon that had lifted him literally to the edge of space- 102,800 feet above sea level. That’s roughly 20 miles. Not only was it by far the highest skydive (space-dive?) ever, but he also set a record for the fastest that a human being has ever traveled outside of a machine. Because he was free-falling through such thin air during the first few minutes of his jump, there wasn’t nearly as much friction to slow his fall, which allowed him to free-fall at supersonic speeds. Yes, he was traveling faster than the speed of sound, with nothing but a pressure suit around him to keep him alive. I can’t think of anything more utterly badass than that. Now a couple of people are trying to break Joe’s record by jumping from an even higher altitude. Frenchman Michel Fournier and Austrian Feliz Baumgartner are both attempting to make these jumps this year, according to an article on Discovery.com. Some would say these guys are totally crazy, but I say they are total badasses, and envy them. Watch Joe Kittinger describe his experience in this video:

NASA’s Mars rover Spirit will now become a stationary asset. The twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2003, and successfully landed on Mars in 2004. They were only intended to operate for 90 days, yet amazingly they have lasted 6 years. The news that NASA has abandoned efforts to free the Spirit rover from the pit of sand in which it’s been stuck for the last 6 months is somewhat saddening, but in context, it really doesn’t matter at all. These rovers are quite possibly NASA’s 2nd greatest accomplishment, next to putting a man on the moon. We should only be thrilled that this amazing little robot lasted as long as it did. Its mission is far from over, however, as it can still do plenty of science sitting right where it is. Of course, Opportunity is still mobile and NASA continues to drive it around, exploring new territory. Who knows how long these things will last? I have a strong feeling the abrasive dust that now coats almost every inch of both rovers will eventually take its toll, but how long that takes is beyond me. For more check out this article on Space.com. Here’s a cool animated GIF showing the last few maneuvering attempts to free it from the sand dune:

This image links to a great flickr set of vintage ads. Just take a minute to peruse through a few. You will enjoy it. Among my faves “Betty’s Gay with Midol“… “I cure women“… “The Miracle of Marlboro.”

Possibly one of the snarkiest local bloggers/writers/music critics is Andrew J. Smithson. He used to write for the Scene, but apparently didn’t like it very much and focused on his own blog. That original blog died, but now he has a new with an incredibly catchy and indicative name- indieocraty. I highly recommend checking it out.

You Ain’t No Picasso posted this new Microsoft ad about their new software Songsmith. Oh. My. God. According to YANP, this is, in fact, the real ad. Maybe Microsoft is trying to make fun of itself? No matter the intent… I too view this as a sign of the apocalypse.

Improv Everywhere is awesome. Check that link for coverage of their latest shenanigan- no pants day. Imagine being in NYC and seeing a bunch of people on the subway and on the streets just walking around with everything but pants on. I love the “freeze” events that they do as well. Nashville has a small group called the Dive-In Theater that does similar stuff. Megan and I participated in the “June Freeze” event in Hillsboro this past June. We met at the dragon park and walked over to Hillsboro Village, and with our phone alarms synced, we all froze up at the same moment, doing random things. It was hard to keep a striaght face while people looked at us curiously, wondering what the hell was going on. I highly suggest checking them out and participating in one of their events. It’s lots of fun.

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I like to do crazy shit like chase tornadoes, go hang-gliding, bungee-jumping (still on my to-do list), etc…. Well, I may have finally found something I wouldn’t do. I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junkie by any means… I don’t have the need to get out and do this kind of shit everyday… but I do love it. In my eyes these dudes are totally badass. I’ve actually seen this video once before… about a year ago. But my dad sent it to me today and I thought it would be worth posting. So what do you think? Are these guys totally badass or totally insane?

And finally, I must leave you with the metal band name flow chart: (click image to enlarge, then prepare to laugh histerically)